Along with the varying degrees of trauma I have experienced throughout my life, I have also experienced a large amount of self-hate. Guilt…and worthlessness.
In fact, even using the word trauma instills an immediate sense of disturbance in my body. I am critical of this word–after all, who am I to label what happened to me as trauma? Many other people experienced so much worse than me.
…maybe I am just being too sensitive. Too over-dramatic about it.
Maybe it isn’t a big deal at all.
This is how the dialogue inevitably begins.
I have a thought. In my mind, this thought can be argued. Logically, it may make perfect sense–but, because I have my own need to appear perfect, to appear strong and happy, I resist what the truth is trying to tell me.
I resist the feelings. I do not let myself experience them.
Do you know what happens when I do that?
The feelings get trapped. They get bigger. They amplify.
And I begin to not only hate the feelings and the journey and the fight….I also hate myself.
I feel like, because I am trapped in these feelings…because I feel stuck…I must punish myself.
My self talk? It uses the word stupid a LOT.
How can you be so STUPID? How can you be here? How can you be so needy? How can you need so much reassurance? How can you _____? !!!
You DESERVE this. This is your fault. It is YOUR fault you are here.
You KNOW BETTER! You know what the right answers are!! You know what you SHOULD be doing!! Why the hell can’t you just DO them already and stop feeling this way?
…wow. This a real, honest-to-God conversation I just had with myself.
This talk? This talk is natural to me. It is what I revert to when I can’t try to think differently–when I am too far gone, too down, too anxious and stubborn to believe that I can feel and BE different.
…And so, the self punishment begins.
I usually start with food. It is easy to control. No, I do not have an “eating” disorder…but I do withhold food for myself at times–I think, Well, if I can’t be sane, at least I can drop a few pounds.
It helps to exercise. I run. I LOVE running. On good days, running replenishes my heart and clears my head.
On a bad day? It is the perfect way to punish. I start to run faster–farther. I get tired, and I curse at myself, saying, You can at least accomplish this!! I may not be able to control the tears and the fears, but dammit…I can control how far I go. I can beat the shit out of the pavement.
The worst part of self-punishment, though? It is the critical inner voice.
The one who is mean. The one who never believes the good. The one who is so much louder than the nice, nurturing inner voice I want to hear.
This part of myself tells me that I am not lovable. After all, I am pretty messy, pretty broken, pretty fucked up–right now especially. Why would ANYone love that?
Next, is the fearful, desperate part of self. This part hears the critical voice and absolutely panics. The desperation says, Please! I’m so sorry I have these feelings. I am so sorry I can’t be more perfect. I am so sorry I can’t be the way I should be. I am so sorry that I am needy! Please…please!! Don’t leave me!
And it spirals. The critical voice re-emerges, and I beat myself up for the desperate and fearful part.
The logical part? Shit…I have no idea where the logical part of self goes in these moments. She is there…but mostly as something the critical part of self recognizes and pokes with a stick, saying Damn! See HOW you should act? You know better, you idiot!
WHY do these parts of self exist? Are they unique JUST to me? Are they unique to trauma survivors? Are they part of everyone?
And, most importantly…how do I make the loving, nurturing part of self the loudest?